The Worst and the Best of 2002

December 19, 2002

By Avi Green

The year is ending, and so, itís now time to dish out opinions on what some of the worst and the best stuff of the year was. So letís cut to the chase and see what rhinestones were being published this year for starters.

The losers of the year

Iron Man. As I write this, itís interesting to note that Iíve recently been reading Kurt Busiekís 1998 miniseries, The Iron Age, which retells the origin of Tony Starkís armored alter ego for the new era, and not only that, it even respects the hero and the people who rally round him, such as Pepper Potts, the former boxer from Queens who became his chauffer and later also an executive employee for his beautiful redheaded executive secretary, and Harold ďHappyĒ Hogan,Stark Enterprises and Pepperís husband. Tony is certainly a man with moral flaws, but one whoís still a very talented and kindly man who, deep within, has more than plenty of redeeming features that heís able to bring out.

But under the overrated Mike Grellís writing in the current 2002 issues, much of this goes down the drain, thanks mostly to Grellís apparent lack of interest in focusing on either Tony or his own armor plated alter ego. The beginning issue by Grell, Iron Man #50 vol. 2, was in very questionable taste, and overall a spectacular failure. Worst part, however, was his shockingly ill treatment of Pepper Potts, by having her get assaulted by the very questionable character of Ayisha, whoíd been turned into a cybernetic witch, terminating Pepperís pregnancy, the part that really turned me off. This was really sick and degrading, and goes to show that Grell hasnít learned much since the time when he wrote Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters for DC, in which Black Canary was brutally assaulted in an act of excessive writing.

Plus, the way that the battle between Tony and Po, son of the Mandarin, and even Tonyís revealing his secret ID to the world was done with surprising awkwardness. In the former example, Tony faces off against Po while the latter uses simply his martial arts skills and not the power rings that his father used. While Iím sure that Po is an expert martial artist, thereís just no way that he could be quick enough to dodge Iron Manís weapons, and so, the duel was underwhelming. In the latter, Tony reveals his identity as IM while going to rescue a pet thatís in the way of a car, and weíre supposed to believe that he can fit on his armor plates as fast as the Flash can get his costume on. Not that Iíve got anything against Tony Stark unmasking his secret identity to the public, but if itís going to be done with such alarming haste, then that, to say the least, is simply bad writing, and only serves to undermine the entire storyís credibility.

And then, just when you think it couldnít get worse, Grell dredges up yet another story involving the boring bad guy Tyler Stone. I just couldnít believe that IMís writers were making yet another dreadful mistake in storytelling, using a crook whoís already proven worthless, and continues to be so. They seem to be trying to turn him into IMís answer to Mysterio, but unfortunately, such villains donít work for IM, because Shellheadís sensory systems make it impossible for Mysterioís illusionary gimmicks, or even Ty Stoneís virtual reality devices, to trick him. Please, someone take this man off the title already.

Green Lantern. Itís bad enough that DCís editors committed some hideous errors with Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of the era gone by. Now theyíve gone a step lower by allowing the overrated Judd Winick to use the book as a platform for his own agenda, which, in this case, was to glorify homosexuality and push it for sainthood. The story revolving around Terry Berg, the gay teenager working at current GL Kyle Raynerís art gallery, was astonishingly one-sided and even went so far as to villify the poor boyís parents by having them say that his lifestyle was blame for his being assaulted. Winickís step is typical of many filmmakers in example, blaming the victims and villifying the parental figures, and is an incredible insult to the public in general.

And then, it turns out that all this was intended not just simply for conducting a one-sided agenda, but for the purpose of getting Kyle Rayner and his girlfriend to take off for outer space so that he could try to get over his guilt over having beaten up the cardboard villains who beat up Terry for no other purpose than to be violent for the sake of it, and so that then, John Stewart could be brought in to coincide with his role in the animated Justice League Adventures on TV!

As if it werenít bad enough that Marvel made some truly awful errors by imitating the X-Men movieís set design for their own books, now DCís got to do it with their own books as well. Not very good artistic thinking, to say the least.

With that behind us, letís now turn to the best of the year.

The winners of the year

Avengers. Kang came to our timeline again to conquer the earth, and the Earth's Mightiest Heroes find themselves facing serious challenges to stop Kang's menace and ensure his defeat again. It was long, I admit it. But even so, I enjoyed it. The teamwork, the character relations, and the issue with Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man really struck a chord with me, and the scenes in which they necked were fabulous. The characterization for Warbird, as usual, was very strong. Kurt Busiekís completed his run in the past four years with a bang. Though one of the longest ever story arcs for the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, it still did quite well, and was very respectable of the cast and their characterization.

Superman. All the issues of the sans-adjective Superman written by Jeph Loeb were among the best this year.

Batman. Jeph Loeb meanwhile has been doing wonders with the Dark Knight of Gotham, and the Hush story arc is turning out to be a great story arc. His writing shows that he knows the characters and what makes them click. Donít miss it folks!

Batgirl. This book too has been showing a lot of good potential, including young Cassandra Cain's success in fighting against Lady Shiva, and I enjoyed it very much. Recommended.

With that, the worst to best year roundup ends. And Iím sure hoping that even the next year will hold many great surprises in store for all of us! Enjoy the coming year in comics, everyone!

Avi Green, whoís hopeful that someday, the Green Lanternís book will be fixed to the fullest, can be reached at avigreen2002@yahoo.com

Copyright 2002 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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